Studies Show Referees and Umpires Are Biased. Are Sports Taken Too Seriously?

Players Had Reason To Question Donaghy's Calls

Have you ever wondered if the referees in sporting contests were on the take or showing a bias toward one team?  Maybe its not as far fetched as one might think and its not a thing of the past.  Recently, an NBA referee was put in jail for conspiring with gamblers to fix games.  After he went to prison, former NBA ref Tim Donaghy was reportedly beaten in prison with speculation that the beatings may have been payback from organized crime.  Guess he shouldn’t have sung.   Now, we find that a couple of professors did a study that was published in the Journal of Sports Sciences.  They concluded that during the 2004-2005 NCAA basketball season, referees showed a bias in the calls that they made, though, in some instances there was a variance in the bias shown given the situation of a given game.  This comes on the heels of another study that shows NBA refs are biased in their calls due to race.

Study Shows Coaches May Have Reason to Be Upset

For a long time, people have claimed refs from one conference might favor a team from their conference.  That is why in bowl games, typically the refs are from a conference that is not associated with either team.   And then there is baseball.  Major League Baseball rotates their umpires from city to city so that there is no risk of cries of an arbitor being a “homer.”  Many people have complained that the umps favor the Yankees so that they can bring their huge TV market into the World Series each year.  There is even an article that charges MLB itself to use its political arm to favor the Yankees!  Then again, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia seems to think the umps are biased in favor of the Red Sox.  Funny how no one thinks the umps favor the Astros.  Anyway, while there is no study to support the notion that the Yankees or Red Sox Nation is favored that I am aware of, academics have done a study that claims umpires make biased calls based on race.  All of this may raise eyebrows or raise questions. Milton Bradley’s question is why are the umps all against him?  But, I have a question.  Shouldn’t academics be doing research that is a little more important than using money to determine if the refs need glasses?  With universities seeming to be more inclined to entertain the alumni rather than educate students, it almost seems as if the bar for higher education is getting lower and lower.

Just Another Day at the Old Ballpark

The correct conclusion of all such studies probably should be that the refs are human and are subject to all human failings on and off the field of play.  But, perhaps there is some redeeming reason for conducting such studies because sometimes fans viewpoint that a particular referee is biased can lead to violence.  Just this past August, a referee in Kenya was killed on the field by a mob of irate fans at a youth soccer game.  In California, a football referee was attacked by fans and a volleyball referee was assaulted by the president of the high school booster club.  Oh, those crazy fans.  But what about players?  Players often say that they want to “kill the ref” but for real?  A soccer player’s threat to kill a referee was once taken quite seriously.  Do players actually follow up on such threats?  In 2004, the Philadelphia Flyers drafted Ladislav Scurko  in the 6th round.  They may have to wait a couple of decades to see a return on that draft pick.  See, the Slovakian hockey player is in jail for killing a referee.  Now, there are those in society that suggest that allowing citizens to be armed actually deters crime.  So, is it a good idea to have refs packin’ heat?  Back in 1999, a referee did exactly that and successfully defended himself to the demise of a player.  It seems in South Africa, a soccer player pulled a knife on a referee who promptly pulled his pistol and shot the player to death.  What was a player doing with a knife on the field and what was a referee doing with a gun on the field?

Kids Learn From Parents

Cricket Umpire Target of Fans

The fact that there are academics spending time and money studying the calls of referees and that there is violence in the stands at sporting events all around the world and assaults and murder taking place due to sporting events doesn’t need a study.  It is obvious that people on this planet are taking sports way too seriously.  It’s supposed to be “just a game”  but to many that is not the case at all.  One can speculate that the big money in sports is the cause.  But what about those parents and fans at high school events that attack the ref?  No money there.  But there is an increasing number of cases of violence by and among parents at youth league games.  Does the actions of parents affect the kids?  A player in Little League sucker punched an opposing player during the post game handshakes the kids go through to try and teach sportsmanship.   Maybe youth league experience is what taught Oregon star running back LaGarrette Blount to punch out a Boise State player on national TV after a game.  Just think how productive people would be and how robust the economy might be if people would take their jobs as seriously as they seem to take sports.  Perhaps all of this is just a sign of a broader decline in civilization and all participants, fans and officials are human.  Historically, humans seem to have a proclivity for violence rather than peace.  How about examining the true value of sport in society, good and bad?  Now that would be a study.  Trouble is, no one would do anything about it.  Let the games begin.

Monday Morning

Weather Bottom Line:  Looks like I was at least partially right.  I had said I didn’t see how we got to the mid to upper 40’s on Thanksgiving or Friday and that some people may not get out of the 30’s on Thanksgiving.  By afternoon on Thursday, it was in the upper 30’s in many areas and no one got out of the low 40’s.  There were sprinkles but no snow.  And even if anyone saw snow Thursday night, not too many people would believe them because it was worthless if it happened.  I would think that on Friday, low to mid 40’s will work and so it may be a few degrees warmer than I had thought but I still think that its possible that low 40’s may be the max for many people.  High pressure moves to our south moves east and we get  a return flow for the weekend bringing the mercury up to the mid 5o’s each day.  Really not a bad weekend.  Late Sunday, clouds will increase with the approach of another front.  That will probably bring some rain Sunday night into Monday.  The rest of the week looks chilly with most people never getting out of the 40’s each afternoon and overnight lows in the low to mid 30’s.  Later in the week could be interesting as a cut off low in the southwest wanders around and picks up some moisture from the Gulf.


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